Hybrid clouds, data security and Swiss Army knives — How OSNEXUS is making storage management simpler
In the cloud era, managing data is getting to be a little too complicated.
As more business distribute their operations and their data across multiple platforms and sites — on-premises, private cloud and public cloud — the hybrid cloud has become the new norm for IT organizations as they simplify workload consolidation, scalability, recoverability and automation.
But managing data across these multi-site, multi-cloud environments can prove to be a significant challenge, which is why IBM Business Partner OSNEXUS Corporation developed its QuantaStor solution back in 2013.
QuantaStor is an industry-leading software-defined storage platform that helps to simplify cross-cloud storage management by unifying file, block and object storage with a common toolset. Or as Steve Umbehocker, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of OSNEXUS, colorfully describes it: “QuantaStor is sort of a ‘Swiss Army knife’ for storage. It enables organizations to solve so many different challenges within the IBM Cloud — scale-out SAN/NAS storage, data replication, backup automation — from a single interface.”
And as part of its efforts to help customers deploy hybrid cloud strategies, OSNEXUS recognized an opportunity where it could help IBM customers that were using both IBM Cloud Direct Link and IBM Cloud Object Storage.
In search of a simpler solution
IBM Cloud Direct Link is a key technology for building hybrid clouds as it bridges an organization’s private network in IBM Cloud to its on-premises environment using advanced encrpytion. And while on-premises servers can readily communicate with their cloud-based counterparts thanks to this IBM technology, accessing any private cloud endpoints associated with IBM Cloud Object Storage from the on-premises servers requires routing that data outside of the encrypted environment and through the public internet.
“This can be particularly challenging for industries — financial, healthcare, insurance — that face a lot of compliance requirements,” notes Umbehocker. “For example a bank that has its data on prem, but they want to do their backups to IBM Cloud. They obviously don’t want their backups streaming out on the public internet, so they want to keep that data in the encrypted envelope.”
The solution to this challenge is to create an S3 reverse proxy that serves as a bridge between a given endpoint within the public cloud and the on-premises servers. By making these endpoints available within IBM Cloud Direct Link, users can access and transfer this data without sacrificing the encryption offered by the IBM solution.
Unfortunately, setting up, monitoring and maintaining a reverse proxy that is also highly available can be time-consuming at best.
Point. Click. Connect.
“We’d had a number of conversations with IBM about this,” recalls Umbehocker. “It was a challenge for a number of our users, and as a business, we really focus on making things easier for our customers. We wanted to make it possible for someone within QuantaStor to be able to resolve this challenge with just a few mouse clicks.”
Coordinating with IBM, OSNEXUS launched QuantaStor 5.6 with a new S3 Reverse Proxy feature designed specifically to work with IBM Cloud Object Storage. “And if you have objects that don’t access the S3 protocol,” adds Umbehocker, “QuantaStor can also bridge the cloud object storage as NAS. It can treat the cloud storage bucket as a file folder, so you can just click and drag files to it.”
With the new version of the OSNEXUS solution, users can now more seamlessly and more securely access their cloud object storage data from throughout their data ecosystem, whether via IBM Cloud or on-premises systems.
“It’s a real security advantage to be able to keep all of your traffic within the encrypted internal IBM network,” concludes Umbehocker. “Otherwise, you have to start punching holes in your firewall, which creates some real security challenges. By having everything held within IBM Cloud and using QuantaStor, you don’t have to worry about making your data vulnerable or spending time configuring your network. It all just works together.”